By EMMALEE C. TORISK
The police detective who has been on paid administrative leave since May 28, and remains on it more than two weeks after his pre-disciplinary conference, says the allegations against him are unfounded.
“They’re nothing that I’m fearful of,” explained Ray Greenwood, 48, of Struthers. “I don’t think they’re substantiated with any evidence.”
Greenwood specifically referenced an alleged assault that took place May 26, the day of a structure fire at the top of Spring Street, near Youngstown-Poland Road.
According to a narrative describing the incident, a woman told a police officer directing traffic that she had just been assaulted by a police officer, whom she identified as Greenwood.
The woman said she’d come to the scene of the fire to see if her husband was OK, but that Greenwood had told her she wasn’t allowed to drive or walk any closer. Greenwood then, according to an investigator’s note, dragged her back to her car with the assistance of a “stranger in regular clothes.”
A narrative supplement written by Jeff Rich, a Mahoning County deputy sheriff, tells a different story.
Though off duty at the time of the fire, Rich, who lives nearby, came to the scene to help; there, he noticed a visibly distressed woman running in the direction of the fire.
According to Rich’s account, a man, later identified as Greenwood, ordered the woman three times to stop running. She refused and kept heading toward the fire, to which Greenwood responded by placing his hands on her arms and pushing her back toward the car.
“The woman resisted this and began thrashing her body and arms, trying to break free of Detective Greenwood,” Rich states. “I then decided for the safety of both the woman and the detective, I would assist him in putting her back in the vehicle.”
Rich’s narrative supplement also details his loudly announcing his affiliation with the sheriff’s office as he approached both Greenwood and the woman.
Greenwood noted that no assault charges have been filed. In addition, he maintains that his actions at the scene of the fire did not violate the use-of-force continuum, which offers guidelines as to how much force law-enforcement officials may use against a resisting subject.
He said, too, that he was simply doing his job. Section 2917.13 of the Ohio Revised Code defines misconduct at an emergency as a person’s failure “to obey the lawful order of any law-enforcement officer engaged in the law-enforcement officer’s duties at the scene of or in connection with a fire, accident, disaster, riot, or emergency of any kind.”
The internal investigation into Greenwood, conducted by the city of Struthers, has been ongoing for a few months, and Greenwood said he first became aware of it in March or April. Since then, he’s made appearances at two investigatory interviews, along with the pre-disciplinary conference.
“I want to get my job back and go back to where I was positioned at,” Greenwood said. “But I won’t ever [not] ... do my job if someone is breaking the law.”
Struthers Mayor Terry Stocker said a decision regarding Greenwood’s employment with the city will be made “very shortly,” and that it will be based upon findings from the investigation.
Greenwood was hired as a reserve police officer for Struthers on June 7, 1996, then promoted to a part-time police officer June 30, 1998, and to a patrol officer July 17, 1999. He’s been a detective for the department for the past five years, and specializes in computer forensics.
Since his start in Struthers, Greenwood has accumulated a host of certifications and commendations.
A May 20 letter from Police Chief Tim Roddy recognizes Greenwood’s involvement in an investigation of drug activity at and around an East Midlothian Boulevard residence, while a Sept. 5 letter, also from Roddy, “recognizes the time and effort that [Greenwood] put into” investigating 14-year-old Teddy Foltz’s death. Roddy called Greenwood’s attention to the details of the crime “remarkable.”
Another letter from May 29, 1998, commends Greenwood’s display of “character and caring,” Roddy says, during a missing-child situation. One from June 4, 2002, and from former Chief Robert Norris, calls his handling of a barricaded subject situation “outstanding.”
In an Oct. 31, 2009, letter, Ed Wildes, the city’s safety-service director, writes that he’s “proud of how our police department handled” an incident involving underage drinking.
In spite of current challenges, Greenwood said he’s still glad to be a Struthers resident of almost 15 years. Before he was appointed to the Struthers Police Department, he was in the running for another, more highly paid position in a neighboring township. He picked Struthers.
“I was happy to stay in Struthers because of the community,” Greenwood said. “I already was accepted, known. I liked the friendly spirit of the people.”